5 Things We All Hate About Airports- and what you can do about them

Love to travel but hate Airports?

You are not alone!

We’ve all been there. Excited anticipation about a trip away, butterflies dancing in our stomachs until we get to… The Airport. Let’s face it, they can be stressful, uncomfortable and overcrowded. There are common themes that grind all of our gears when travelling by air, but don’t worry, there is hope.
A wise man once said: “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” – Greg Anderson.

Well, I challenge Greg to feel the same way when at Luton Airport (not pictured) on a busy bank holiday weekend- without consuming any alcohol to numb the pain. It was actually whilst standing in the queue at Luton Airport security, that I began to ponder what it is that I most dislike about airports, and how I personally combat these issues. You could say that Luton Airport was indeed the birthing place of this blog post.

Airports should be wonderful places to relax in and look forward to the start of your adventure, holiday or weekend getaway. Instead, they are full of people behaving like self obsessed idiots,  a constant barrage of advertisements telling you to spend your money, and queues in which you feel like you have aged 20 years, by the time you reach the end of.

5 Things We Hate About Airports :

1. Queues:

This may be a recurring theme in this post, for which I apologise. It is due to the fact however, that the entire duration of your airport experience (from the moment you pull off the motorway, to the moment you walk through the exit doors at your final destination) revolves around queues for one thing or another. Now don’t get me wrong, being a Brit I like the queueing system in general, it’s orderly, it’s fair and it works, but it also gets old very quickly. For a queueing system to be successful, it needs it’s participants to be committed to the queue, and airport travellers generally are, if not a little too committed. This is where the main problem arises…..

–Personal Space–

The Oxford English Dictionary defines personal space as: “The physical space immediately surrounding someone, into which encroachment can feel threatening or uncomfortable.”

Uncomfortable…… yes, that’s one word for it.

Particularly when I have my carry on backpack on my back (where it belongs), and the person behind feels the need to push into it, multiple times, to get just 1 inch further forward. This is unnecessary and actually just downright rude. What I don’t understand is that the person can see this physical extension to my body. Heck, if they are visually impaired and can’t, then they can still feel that they are bumping another person. Once as an accident I can forgive, but twice or more? Really!?

What I Do To Combat Queueing Blues:

Unfortunately when an activity involves humans and human nature, it is very difficult to get the correct behaviour out of all involved. Airport queues are never going to be fun but to make the experience feel less stressful, I do everything I can to…….

Lead By Example

  • Give the person (and their bag) in front of you enough room, so that if they need to turn they won’t bash you in the face, and so that you aren’t constantly bumping into them either. Think driving and stopping distances. If children are involved, think: wet road conditions.
  • Pay attention. Yes queues are boring and it is extremely tempting to be glued to your smart phone to entertain yourself, but this is when what I like to call “The Domino Effect” is ready to swoop in. A gap will form in front of you because you haven’t seen the queue move forward, and you will excitedly race up to catch up with the person in ahead. As will the person behind you, and the one behind them. Usually due to this crazy little rush, everyone ends up with less personal space, collisions occur, and it becomes more uncomfortable for all involved. Pay attention. Don’t be the one that pushes the first domino over.
  • Be nice. Hard as it is when the person has bumped you from behind for the millionth time, and really all you want to think about is how good it would feel to push them over- don’t say you never have (thought about it, that is). Instead turn around, smile and say “Sorry”. Usually this will illicit an apology from them and they will realise they are too close and back off. Obviously this doesn’t always work, depending on the person in question, language barriers and cultural differences. In this instance I try to shower them in positive thoughts. I know it sounds crazy but I leave the queue (finally) feeling much happier, than if I am stood there scowling and thinking of 101 ways I would like to exact my revenge. It stops the negative spiral. Try not to growl at the person (hard to show restraint at times I know) because it will put them in a bad mood which they will  pass on to someone else, and then it snowballs.

2. Shops:

Shops, shops, everywhere. You MUST buy this or your holiday will be incomplete.

Ok, I don’t mind the shops being there (some of them) as having somewhere to buy refreshments and reading material is nice. What I hate is the mass consumerism aspect, and pushing sales of things we don’t really need, by labelling them as “Duty Free”. I’ve done it and I’m sure you have too. How many times have you bought something in an airport just because it was cheaper (thanks to duty free) than at home? Never mind the fact that you never buy that thing at home, or very rarely. The airport shops push you to buy and spend NOW because you may not get another chance EVER. That money could be better spent on making lifelong memories, on your trip.

If you do decide to give in and purchase something, this is when other problems become apparent….

  • The design and layout. Not easy to navigate with hand luggage and other travellers. Always narrow walkways and breakable things everywhere.
  • So many staff- none on the tills. Yet more queues.
  • Why do they need my boarding pass!? By this point I have safely stowed it back where it belongs and now they want me to dig it out again, for reasons that I can only imagine involve statistics in “what sells to certain passengers, and how we can get more sales”.
So What Do I Do, To Make This Easier?
  • I take a deep breath and remind myself that for some people this is one of the most exciting parts about coming to an airport (sigh) and that I should not be a joy stealer
  • I buy only what I need, as quickly as I can and then get the hell out of there, before I can be brainwashed by the advertising campaigns
  • If I am making a purchase, I make sure I have my boarding pass ready before getting to the till

3. Security:

This point is slightly unfair, in as much as I don’t hate security per se. I think security in airports is extremely important (as the sad events around the world have shown us over recent years) and I support security measures fully. This being said, it is a major faff. Separating everything out, taking off clothing, throwing away liquids over 100ml, removing my laptop from my bag. But it’s not all of that, that gets me. What really annoys me is when:

People do this last minute at the security station. Just where you put your bags on the belt and they go through the scanner.

It holds everyone up. Just because they couldn’t be bothered to do it earlier, or because they decided to ignore the signs. If you have been on a flight in the last 10 years, you will know there is a restriction on liquids, gels and aerosols. How hard is it to  have put them in a little transparent, re-sealable bag and have them ready in your hand before you reach the security belt and scanner?

Maybe you haven’t flown before, or not in the last 10 years- does that make it ok? NO! There are signs everywhere telling you what you must have ready and what is allowed through security. Some airports  have staff reminding passengers and I even remember some strange talking hologram cut-out-thing lecturing me about it all in an airport (wish I could remember which one), which was actually pretty creepy. So even if you are blind, or visually impaired I’m afraid you have no excuse.

Coats, jackets, scarves and removing laptops from bags, I’m a little more lenient with. Frequent flyers know the drill but it is easy to forget it you haven’t flown in a while. However, most of the time there are signs relating to these too.

Just saying.

How Do I Survive My Security Gripes?

Again, due to it being human behaviour that is the main issue at hand, it is difficult to remedy entirely. I mainly try again to lead by example and hope that other people will take notice of what I’m doing and maybe follow suit.

  • When packing at home I have a sandwich bag that i put my liquids/gels/aerosols under 100ml in ready and waiting to come out of the front pocket of my backpack before I go through security.
  • I take my coat and scarf off and carry them whilst in the queue
  • I remove my laptop from my backpack before going through security and carry it whilst queueing
  • I check my pockets and mentally scan my outfit to see if there is anything I need to remove before taking off my coat etc.
  • I breathe deeply when held up by someone else who hasn’t got themselves organised and tell myself it really isn’t the end of the world. Another minute waiting will not impact upon me greatly (even though it feels like it will).


4. Toilets:

Oh man- Airport toilets. Always a queue, only what feels like 3 toilets for 300 people and often not enough room to swing a cat, let alone your hand luggage or big backpack/case.

Fun times.

How To Stop Airport Toilets Becoming A Pain In The Arse:

(pun fully intended)

Well you can’t change the design or layout of the airport and it’s facilities that’s for sure, but you can think ahead and know a few tricks.

  • Don’t leave it until you’re bursting. I tend to go before getting into a long queue (eg. security) so that if I come through security and there is a giant queue for the ladies, I’m not terrified that the unthinkable might happen.
  • Know that there is likely to be a wait and plan accordingly. Don’t leave yourself short of time to reach your gate because you have to “go”.
  • When you need the toilet after landing NEVER and I repeat, never, go in the first one you see. There is always a toilet just a tiny bit further along and it isn’t rammed with everyone else who has just come off of your flight. If you can make it to the third one, you are winning. The later toilets are usually cleaner and better stocked, as they aren’t hit so hard, repeatedly throughout the day.

5. Seating:

I don’t understand how there always appears to be a lack of seating, for everything. From seats by the departure screens, to chairs in the restaurants and cafes. It seems like they have constantly underestimated just how many travellers would actually like to put their bottoms on a chair.

If you are lucky enough to find a seat- don’t expect to be comfortable. The cynic in me does wonder at whether the designers of the seats in airports made them particularly uncomfortable on purpose, thus leading to less time spent sitting on them, and reducing the problem of not enough of seats in the first place! Or maybe they want you to get up off your bottom and go shopping in the Duty Free. Hmmm….

How can you guarantee to be able to sit down?
  • Sit on the floor. Most people won’t use this as an option because they believe people will judge them for it. I on the other hand, really don’t care. As long as I’m not in anyones way and can find something to lean against, I am more than happy to park my bum on the floor. It is amazing how many other people will join you once you have done it- they just didn’t want to be the first.
  • If you are worried about getting your clothes dirty (I don’t tend to travel in my favourite clothes) sit on a carrier bag, or a coat or something else.
  • If you can’t find a seat in a restaurant/cafe- ask to join someone else’s table if they are sat alone. You don’t have to make conversation but it sure beats juggling, your coffee, muffin and water and throwing it down yourself. You might even make a new friend.

I hope that maybe you can draw some inspiration from my “solutions” to the 5 problems and make your next airport visit a more pleasurable one.

Do you have any other elements you hate about Airports? Anything else about them that really grinds your gears? If so, please share in the comments below, especially if you also have your own ways of combatting the stresses they present. Similarly, is there an Airport you love? What makes it different? I have just recently discovered Dublin Airport and can say that it was truly a breath of fresh air. Blog post on why I love Dublin Airport, coming soon!

Take care and happy travels,

Han xxx

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About The Author


Creative unicorn ninja; Travel vlogger/blogger. Green tea enthusiast and lover of dance and art. Currently be found back in England planning the next adventure! Southeast Asia Odyssey coming very soon!

Where I can be found: UK

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